How should I promote my anti-Westboro Baptist Church fundraiser online?
December 5, 2009 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Westboro Baptist Church is coming to my area this upcoming week and I've started an economic counter protest (through Facebook) with people pledging $1/minute to the Matthew Shepard Foundation for every minute they're here. We've raised over 35,000 dollars so far -- and now I'm trying to brainstorm how to get some major blog coverage so we can up our donation amount even further.

So far, I haven't really done much publicity for this movement -- it just kind of took off through word of mouth. BUT...the number of new members pledging a buck a minute seems to be slowing down some...and we still have 24 hours before they roll into town.

Any suggestions on how to get the word out on a Sunday?
posted by melodykramer to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any online suggestions, but maybe see if any radio stations in your area would be willing to announce it, or even a local television affiliate.
posted by amyms at 7:19 PM on December 5, 2009

Make sure you post a link in your metafilter profile so that anyone who wishes to can link and send to friends.

You might also post to the projects page. Someone correct me if I'm wrong about that.
posted by jefficator at 7:25 PM on December 5, 2009

I'd get in contact with your local non-commercial radio station and see if they'll talk about it. They have to be careful talking about money on air (per FCC rules), but they can at least talk about the issue and direct people to your website.
posted by radioamy at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: I will post the link in my profile -- but I stupidly promoted a blog earlier this month, so I can't post in projects.
posted by melodykramer at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: Well, it wasn't stupid to promote the blog -- I just didn't know about this little protest then.
posted by melodykramer at 7:28 PM on December 5, 2009

Many counter-protesters will show up at the event itself. Perhaps you can find a few friends to set up netbooks so that people can donate while counter-protesting.

As a side note, Westboro folks came to my neighborhood a couple of months back. My boyfriend and I went to join the large, calm, sometimes funny counter-protest. It was moving and made the Westoboro demonstration a net positive event for my community.
posted by kevin-o at 7:31 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Part of the goal is to have no one actually show up to counter protest and to do this instead -- they raise their money when people show up. People are angry and riled up -- so channeling it in a positive way with a donation is what I'm hoping people do instead....
posted by melodykramer at 7:33 PM on December 5, 2009

Have you sent info about the protest to various high-traffic pro-gay-rights blogs like AMERICAblog and TowleRoad and Pam's House Blend? Given the amazing response you've gotten so far, I would think one of them would give you a sidebar.

Or one of the long-standing enemies of Phelps, like P.Z. Myers or James Randi.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:38 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ha, that was you? Awesome. Did you send this to anyone at the Inky? Dan Rubin would totally post something about this, you should send him a link to the Facebook group. And what about Atrios, he's probably the biggest local blog you could push this to, though the guy who runs is also in Bucks County and would totally run something on this, also.
posted by The Straightener at 7:40 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: I've tried sending it to the major bloggers -- my understanding is that they receive SO many link requests. It hasn't gone up anywhere.
posted by melodykramer at 7:44 PM on December 5, 2009

From the other end of the spectrum, consider the Patriot Guard Riders.
posted by minimii at 7:49 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you tried mass inviting all your Facebook friends to the event already? And have your friends do the same. Make it visible.

People are angry and riled up -- so channeling it in a positive way with a donation is what I'm hoping people do instead....

Might be a derail, but this isn't always the case. Going off what kevin-o said, a Westboro-style protest showed up at a funeral last year. I walked down there, and the street was lined with those supporting the troops which made the event much more moving. You had to look for protest with the number of positive supporters there. And it was completely peaceful.
posted by jmd82 at 7:50 PM on December 5, 2009

Email some of of the bloggers from Huffington Post and Daily Kos who are gay rights activists or have written about Westboro Baptist previously. The Rude Pundit might go for it.

Good luck. I think this is fabulous.
posted by irisclara at 7:55 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster:

Even if it's peaceful, it's a reason for the news to cover them further which is essentially a free commercial for them. The news doesn't cover every protest group who shows up in Philly. It's news because of what response they provoke. If they stopped getting that response, they wouldn't be able to continue attracting funds from the people who support them and/or suing the people who show up at their rallies.

posted by melodykramer at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Alright, I will email a whole bunch of them right now.
posted by melodykramer at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2009

I know a guy at the Daily News who would be up for this, I just left him a message, will Memail you his contact info so you can follow up with him.
posted by The Straightener at 8:01 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: irisclara, do you know of anyone specifically?
posted by melodykramer at 8:03 PM on December 5, 2009

Is there someone else who could post it to Projects?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:27 PM on December 5, 2009

Yeah but 10000 hits ain't nothin' to sneeze at!

Daily News guy will cover it for the paper and talk about the facebook group, it will be sort of after the fact since it's Monday morning but at least the Foundation name will get out there in print.
posted by The Straightener at 8:51 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: Sweet. The power of Ask Metafilter. How do we get it ON THE ELLEN SHOW??? (That's probably a reach.) Cheers, Mel
posted by melodykramer at 8:53 PM on December 5, 2009

For what it's worth, I was just reading about this earlier tonight. It's been mentioned here and here.

Hi, we went to high school together.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:57 PM on December 5, 2009

Please keep in mind that one of Westboro's most valued strategies is to announce a protest in Location X, watch the counter-protesters mobilize, and then NOT SHOW UP. Seriously. Threatening a protest with no intention of actually carrying through is one of the cheapest things they can do to get media coverage:

Officials said the church members asked for special police protection and broke an agreement for security service when they failed to arrive. "They didn't even give me a courtesy call to say they weren't coming," township police Chief David Guigear told The Flint Journal.

Westboro church member and lawyer Shirley Phelps-Roper said group members bought airline tickets but said the Holy Ghost told them at the last minute to stay home.

See how it works? Westboro routinely announces protests they have no intention of actually attending. Just be prepared for that possibility.
posted by mediareport at 8:57 PM on December 5, 2009 [3 favorites]

Exhibit A:

Protesters no-show at funeral:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009
It seems the planned protest of Lance Cpl. David Raymond Baker's funeral by Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kan.-based church known for picketing at the funerals of American troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, never materialized.

"If they were there, they didn't make themselves known," said Painesville Police Capt. Rick Kline..."We didn't have any issues whatsoever," Kline said. "The whole ceremony was what it was meant to be in respect to David Baker."

However, information received by The News-Herald indicates that Westboro agreed to cancel their protest at the last minute in exchange for one hour of air time on the Canton-area radio station WDJQ-FM 92.5.

A call placed to the Alliance-based top-40 station Monday confirmed representatives from Westboro appeared on air sometime between 7 p.m. and midnight Friday, though a message left for the station's program director to obtain additional details was not returned in time for this edition.

Despite the fact protesters didn't show Saturday in Painesville, a fundraiser designed to collect pledges for veterans' organizations for every minute the protesters were at the funeral went well, said Navy veteran Ray Wagner, who organized the effort.

So, fundraising counter-protests can still be effective, but be alert to the fact that Westboro uses meaningless threats of protest appearances to get local media appearances. *That's* what they're trying to do in most of these cases, which means calling their bluff might be the wisest move.
posted by mediareport at 9:04 PM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: Yeah, there's a big movement here to have NO ONE show up. I'm not going. My family's not going. Even if they don't come, I believe a lot of people will donate -- so net positive in the end. Whoo!
posted by melodykramer at 9:08 PM on December 5, 2009

Just make "They're probably not going to even show up, the liars" part of your media strategy. It'll probably pay off.
posted by mediareport at 9:22 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of everyone ignoring the Westboro haters. My second favorite idea is to invite your local Pastafarians to mock them. At a protest In Little Rock last year, the Pastafarians got all the media coverage and other public attention instead of the Westboro group:

Good luck with the fundraiser!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 9:51 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

melodykramer, just as an FYI the real address for Postroad's personal website is I don't know why the one in his post links to a porn site--it's the wrong address, though. (Maybe the mods could fix this?)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:59 PM on December 5, 2009

Rude Pundit might get quickest results. Don't know about specific people otherwise. HuffPo has a citizen journalism thing, though. Try the "Send A Tip" button on the sidebar.

I am in awe of your activism.
posted by irisclara at 11:24 PM on December 5, 2009

hurdy gurdy girl - fwiw, the site that postroad listed has a note about the fundraiser while the one you listed doesn't - are you sure it's the wrong address? (i realize the one you listed is the one in his profile, but maybe they're both his and he listed the one he meant to)
posted by nadawi at 11:28 PM on December 5, 2009

Ah, thanks nadawi, it never occurred to me Postroad might have two different sites. I made my previous comment because I remembered seeing the other (blogspot) address on Postroad's profile and assumed the one in this thread was a mistyping. However, since a link has been put up on the other one then your suggestion totally makes sense.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:10 AM on December 6, 2009

Response by poster: I emailed him before the site loaded....
posted by melodykramer at 12:14 AM on December 6, 2009

Response by poster: We're at 35,000 bucks.

The signs: :P

The group:

If anyone would like to do this if they come to your town, let me know and I'll tell you exactly how it went down. :P

Cheers, Mel
posted by melodykramer at 5:32 PM on December 6, 2009

Westboro threatened to send protesters to the funeral of this soldier but certainly it was wise that they didn't. Not only the state police, and the Freedom Riders but also about 300 high school students from surrounding counties in north Texas turned out to ensure they maintained a lawful distance from the funeral. They didn't show in spite of threats to the contrary on their website.
posted by tamitang at 8:38 PM on December 6, 2009

Response by poster: Followup: They came, the group is up to (pledged) 41,000 dollars. Everyone is supposed to donate today so hopefully we will have a final tally later this week.
posted by melodykramer at 6:31 AM on December 7, 2009

Wow, that is a great outcome. Congratulations on raising so much for such a good cause!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2009

Response by poster: I expect the actual donated amount to be lower, because a lot of the people who joined are high school students who don't have a lot of funds and joined in solidarity + to create attention.

But even if everyone who cannot donate at this time thinks in the back of their mind "Hmm. That's a good foundation to contribute to at some point in the future" I consider it successful.
posted by melodykramer at 10:30 PM on December 7, 2009

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